About Peepee Falls
Peepee Falls (or more accurately Pe’epe’e Falls) is a lesser known waterfall about 1.5 miles upstream from the popular Rainbow Falls near downtown Hilo.
I reckon this waterfall was lesser known because the public access viewing area at the Wailuku River State Park seemed more for the Boiling Pots than this waterfall. By the way, the Boiling Pots was a series of smaller cascades and pools further downstream that can be a deadly raging torrent in high water. We actually witnessed how scary it can be at high water when we experienced an unusually heavy rain storm during Super Bowl XLII Weekend back in 2008.
Although it had been said that Peepee Falls plunged 80-100ft, it certainly didn’t look that way. Based on a crude method where I saw people standing behind the falls and stacked them up in a photo, it seemed more like 50 or 60ft tall instead. In any case, the plunge pool was surrounded by lava rocks believed to date back to the eruptions of the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes over 3,000 years ago and about 10,000 years ago, respectively.
Since the view of the falls from the official lookout seemed to leave a lot to be desired, we went ahead and scrambled for a closer look as the falls was roughly about a quarter-mile away. We must say that we made this attempt with trepidation as many people died here due to flash floods or who foolishly tried to cross the stream in high water. Needless to say, this was something we only attempted when Wailuku River was in low flow, and when we saw plenty of other people swim or cross the river.
The primitive scramble path began on the right side of the overlook as it descended to the lava rocks on the banks of the Wailuku River. From there, we were able to continue upstream along the river before we saw where the river crossing was reasonably short but not dangerously fast-moving and deep.
There was a section where I was able to cross onto a mini-island where the Wailuku River split. That allowed me to only get wet (about thigh-deep to waist-deep) on the far side of the crossing in low water. I wouldn’t have made the attempt if the river’s flow was any higher than this. Julie didn’t join me so she held the keys and wallet (keeping me from drenching them accidentally). I just kept the camera high over my head trying my best to make sure not to fall and accidentally dunk it like I did in the past.
Once I got to the other side, I had to scramble a bit more before I finally got to the plunge pool right across from the Peepee Falls (see photo at the top of this page). To the left of it, I saw another waterfall that would otherwise be hidden from anyone who didn’t make this scramble. I did notice a handful of folks scramble all the way to the backside of the falls, which was something I chose not to do.
From the Hilo Airport at the Hwy 19 and Hwy 11 junction with Banyan Drive in Hilo, we headed west on Hwy 19 for about 3 miles to Waianuenue Ave. Then, we turned left and took Waianuenue Ave west following the “Boiling Pots” signs, which helped to guide us. About 2 miles past the Hwy 200 junction (1.5 miles west of Rainbow Falls turnoff), we turned right from Waianuenue Ave onto Pe’epe’e Falls Street and continued to the Wailuku River State Park car park on the left.
To give you some geographical context, Hilo was 79 miles (under 2 hours drive) east of Kailua-Kona via the Saddle Road. Otherwise, taking the more conventional route along Hwy 19 through Waikoloa, Waikoloa Village, and Waimea, this drive would be 96 miles long taking over 2 hours.
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